Reach For The Stars

Wilgerbosdrift Gr1 SA Oaks at Turffontein on Saturday

Touch The Sky wins the Listed Oaks Trial at Turffontein 2014-04-05

Touch The Sky looks progressive

Trainer Geoff Woodruff has a very strong hand in the classics this season. He saddles two beautifully bred fillies in the R1 million Gr1 Wilgerbosdrift SA Oaks, a race that in the absence of SA Fillies Classic victress Athina, sadly lacks depth beyond the top three runners.

A glance at the colts’ equivalent (the SA Derby) will demonstrate the relative standard of merit between the sexes. That is an indication of the quality of the two fields, but there is little question that the winning owner and breeder will grab the paddock boosting black type that goes with the territory in an SA Oaks win.


Joey Soma obviously opted to keep the SA Fillies Classic winner Athina at home rather than try and force her to stay the trip. Her absence undoubtedly takes some lustre off the race.

But Geoff Woodruff will be smiling and he is bound to enjoy a big Champions Day. He looks only to have Mike De Kock to beat to grab the honours in the Oaks. Robbie Fradd rides the Western Winter filly Zephira, who is also the highest rated runner in this race.

A winner of 3 of her 7 starts, she has shown excellent promise over 2000m and may have found the 1800m of the SA Classic too sharp before fading late for a very reasonable 1,25 length fifth to Athina. Piere Strydom allowed her to stride very freely there and it was in contrast to the way she had been ridden to her previous wins.


Her stablemate, the Varsfontein Stud owned Touch The Sky was a runway winner of the Oaks Trial. Beautifully ridden, she skipped clear to beat Square Dance with ease. It is good to see that her connections have stayed loyal to Akash Aucharuz, who rode their filly to her last win. While only rated 80, and thus on paper not looking competitive, she appears to have limitless scope for improvement.

Touch The Sky has a half sister by Dynasty (lot 468) on the National Yearling Sale and a big effort by her in this race will be a major booster for the vendor.

Well Bred

Mike De Kock’s beautifully bred Square Dance is 5,5kgs better off with Touch The Sky after finishing 3 lengths in arrears in the Oaks Trial last time. There the daughter of Oasis Dream was slightly slow off but came on well, while having no chance with the winner.

She is lightly raced and only has her fifth run here. She also enjoys a 3kg allowance by virtue of her Northern Hemisphere breeding.

Marwing Trio

Weiho Marwing’s Ash Cloud has won 2 of her 7 starts, and must have a place chance if she stays and if she brings her better form to races. She showed pace in the SA Fillies Classic bu tfaded to finish 4 lengths behind Athina.

Marwing also saddles Implode and Bluebell G lade, who are lacking the form required to win a Gr1. St John Gray’s Barrack Babe steps up in class but have proven consistent of late. She ran third in the Oaks Trial and since won again at the Vaal in midweek. She was carded to run last Saturday again and will strip very fit.

Well Held

Bernard Fayd’herbe rides Lucky Houdalakis’ Tinsel-town who was well beaten in the Oaks Trial. A winner of her maiden by 7 lengths, she is bred on stout staying lines and could grab place money if improving on her last run.

Gary Alexander’s Coby is twice winning daughter of A.P. Arrow who should relish the extra ground here. She is lightly raced and drawn at 1 and may be a nice quartet backender.

Tough Task

Sean Tarry’s City Of Athens was unplaced in the Oaks Trial but won twice early on and may warrant an opportunity of finding her feet again. She finished only four lengths behind Orator’s Daughter at the beginning of March.

Robbie Sage’s Fort Wood filly Casual has lost form but actually has the beating of Zephira on a run during February. She would need to find form again.

Three Way

The race looks a straight fight between Woodruff’s duo and De Kock’s Square Dance. All three fillies will appreciate the extra test of stamina and there won’t be much in it. We are going with Zephira to beat Touch The Sky with Square Dance in third.

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